Johnson & Johnson and Australian mining giant, Rio Tinto, are facing a product liability lawsuit over talcum powder products after five women have claimed they developed ovarian cancer while using the powder for feminine hygiene purposes. According to news reports, the lawsuit has been filed by four women and the husband of a woman who died of cancer in a court in Louisiana.
The women’s cancers developed between 2011 and 2015 during which time they used either Johnson Baby Powder or Shower to Shower products for feminine hygiene purposes. The lawsuit alleges that both companies were aware of independent scientific studies linking the use of their products to the increased risk of ovarian cancer in women when used in the genital area. However, the lawsuit alleges, that the companies failed to inform consumers about the catastrophic health hazard associated with the use of these talcum powder products.
J & J Talcum Powder Lawsuits
Johnson & Johnson is facing at least 1,200 lawsuits linking its talcum powder products to ovarian cancers. However, this is the first case that has named Rio Tinto’s U.S. subsidiary, Rio Tinto Minerals Inc., which mines talc. Two separate cases in Missouri this year ended with the healthcare giant being forced to pay a combined $127 million in damages. A jury awarded $55 million to a woman who developed cancer as a result using the powder products and $72 million to the family of a woman who died of ovarian cancer linked to talcum powder products.
Both women had used talcum powder for feminine hygiene for decades. Despite these hefty jury awards and lawsuits filed, Johnson & Johnson continues to deny that there is anything wrong with its products. It continues to maintain that multiple scientific and regulatory reviews have determined that talc is safe for use in cosmetic products and that the labeling on Johnson’s Baby Powder “is appropriate.”
Link Between Talc and Ovarian Cancer
There have been several studies as early as the 1980s, which have shown the link between talc and ovarian cancer. If the powder particles applied to the genital area or on sanitary napkins were to travel through the vagina, uterus and fallopian tubes to the ovaries, it could result in ovarian cancer. J&J continues to deny this link despite knowing about it for decades. Instead of warning consumers, the company has continued to aggressively market it to consumers, particularly those in minority cultures, where using talc for feminine hygiene is a more common practice. J&J should stop putting profits over people and start warning consumers about the danger its products pose.